Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Don't Waste the Wait

I want to thank everyone for praying this past week.  Sadly, we still do not have our visas.  We are not in France (yet).  Still, God is good. For us this has become a season of waiting.  What we thought was a commission, to the front line of God’s will for us, is a season of sitting on bags in the assembly area (1 Samuel 30:21-25). 

To confess, I hate to wait.  Take for instance a 2-day shipment from amazon.  It takes too long.  During those two days I will check package tracking like 100 times just to see where my package is. 

I struggle when God says, “wait.”  My question becomes, “How do you wait for someone who was present at the birth of the first star, and will exist after our universe has achieved the icy death of maximum entropy?” God has no reason to hurry.  Waiting for visas is a grueling eternity for me.  Waiting for visas is a instantaneous moment for an eternal God. 

So how do I wait well?  Will my visas come tomorrow? The day after that? A month from now? Ever?

In moments like these people too quickly love to point you to passages such as Psalm 27:14 or Isaiah 40:31, “They who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength.”  When this is a “Band-Aid verse” it does not have a healing affect.  Without entering into the moment with someone a verse in this way feels like hollow, pat, and trite sentiment.  Like someone offering you pine needles to eat when you have not eaten in days. 

For us this was painfully true after 7 years of praying, longing, and tearfully waiting for an end to infertility.  I could not stand someone saying, “God will provide.” I would say, “Yeah, in what way?”

And yet, even though I fought God in my hope, he did something amazing.  In my time of waiting, he taught me how important and good hope is. Once I experienced the pain of hope deferred, time and again, I began to understand how beautiful and good hope in God is.  Hoping in God is good because he was faithful to carry us through this dark season.  Matt Chandler recently said in a sermon, “God does not waist the sorrows of his people, ever!” (see 52:08) In the end our hope was strengthened because our intimacy with our heavenly Father increased. 

Again we find ourselves in a season of waiting.  I now turn to passages like Psalm 27 and Isaiah 40 because I want to experience God’s goodness in the wait. 

Here is my discovery thus far: there are two ways to wait.  I’ve done them both.  The first is to numb yourself.  This is easy to do in a society that can take a burrito from frozen to lava hot in under two minutes.

Since I am trained not to wait, I found my self saying things like, “I will deal with that when I get to France.”  This included recovering from the faithful wounds followers of God naturally suffer (John 15:20).  God wanted me to use this time to recover, and Sabbath, from the strain of the journey of ministry.  I numbed myself instead.  I numbed myself through TV, business, preparation, travel, TV (did I mention that yet?), etc.  By numbing my soul I was anesthetizing my ability to experience God. 

The most wonderful thing happened when we missed our travel deadline.  I no longer had the distraction of a date, and I had to confront my time of waiting.  My soul began to awaken.  When it did, I began to feel all of the wonderful things I had been avoiding.  (This included many spiritual injuries.  Which if left unattended would become septic and poison relationships with people for whom I care deeply.  Not only was pain numbed, but love, joy and hope was as well.)  When we wait well our hearts become sensitive.

If you look at the Psalms you will read many instances of the psalmists seeking God in times of waiting.  They are seeking for justice, protection, an end to war and opposition.  Look at Psalm 55.  In this passage the psalmist is crying out for justice.  His close friend and ally betrayed him.  In his moment of waiting for resolution and justice, the psalmist takes time to experience the complex emotions of his moment: the restlessness of waiting, the pain of betrayal, the sweetness of friendship, and the desire for God’s justice to be revealed. 

A time of waiting is like the fresh water stream that use to run through my back yard.  When I was stomping around the water would become silty and churned up.  Sometimes I would step on something painful and have no idea what it was.  That is until I stopped moving, waited, and let the silt settle.  Then I would get a crystal clear picture of the bottom of the stream. 

I could not see the sharp rock or animal that hurt me until I waited long enough for the creek bed to settle.  When it did, I would be rewarded not just with a sharp rock but with a clear picture of a beautifully complex and divers habitat of a North American stream. 

We are in a season where we are experiencing the rich habitat of our souls.  The complexity of joy and pain, hope and disappointment, trust and loss, gratitude and frustration.  We experience all of this knowing that God is in them all because He created the habitat of our hearts.

During our time of waiting I want my heart to awaken, and I want the heart of my family to awaken to a deeper experience of the reality of God.  I want us to know on a deep level the goodness and truth of Isaiah 40:31.

Here is how you can pray during this time: 
1. Pray that we can get to France before the baby is born. (Even in my faithful waiting I pray every day for our visas because I know God is good.)

2. Pray for the Lawrence family because they are in the same situation as us. 

3. Pray for the wisdom of our leadership as we discern the next steps together.

4. Pray that Hannah and Amelia see the goodness and kindness of God during our wait. 

5. Pray that people would see the wonderful majesty and greatness of God during this time. 

6. Pray that God would reveal to you areas in your own heart where you are numbing your soul. Pray that he would awaken your heart to a new experience of His love. 

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